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WATCH: Q&A with Sports Photographer Rob Tringali

As much of the working world operates remotely right now, and as the photo community gathers online to support one another, we’ve been hosting we...

As much of the working world operates remotely right now, and as the photo community gathers online to support one another, we’ve been hosting webinars in an effort to connect, inspire and learn from each other. Last week, we sat down with legendary New York sports photographer, Rob Tringali, to speak about his long career shooting for a wide range of sports publications and big-name clients and to hear about his approach to visual storytelling.

In our new on-demand webinar, A League of His Own, Rob joins us to discuss his lifelong passion for sports photography as he walks us through his earliest moments on the field, and how he has approached the craft with authenticity time and time again.

Watch to learn: 

  • How Rob got his start as a sports photographer
  • How to capture authentic and intimate moments in the world of professional sports
  • How to build an iconic portfolio and knock it out of the park when it comes to approaching visual storytelling.

*At the start of Rob’s presentation, he sends best wishes to his friend and fellow sports photographer, Anthony Causi. Tragically on Sunday, April 12, 2020, Anthony passed away due to coronavirus complications. We’re incredibly saddened to hear the news of Anthony’s passing. Our hearts go out to his family and all of those who knew and loved him. This is truly a tragic loss for the photo community.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support Anthony’s family at this difficult time. If you would like to donate or learn more, please visit:

On-Demand Webinar: A League of His Own with Rob Tringali

All Your Questions Answered

Thank you to everyone for submitting questions throughout our conversation with Rob and during the Q&A! Read through some of Rob’s answers below, and tweet any lingering questions @photoshelter.

This Q&A was lightly edited for clarity and length.

What’s the best advice you have for a photographer just starting out in the industry right now?

RT: Just be yourself. I mean honestly, just find the things that you enjoy doing. To me, unless you’re doing what you love to do, I don’t know if you can be successful. So I think you have to find the things that really mean a lot to you and that’s the best answer I have. Just find something that you’re passionate about and go for it, whatever that may be.

How do you make the choice between black and white versus color in your photos?

RT: That’s a good question. I think there’s something classic about black and white, especially when it’s the Yankees. I always think that the uniform looks good in black and white. Some stadiums are really messy when it comes to color. So with a black and white image, it usually cleans up some of these colors. But I think I’ve gotten away from that. I think there was definitely a stretch of time for me.

If a story you pitch doesn’t get picked up, do you still shoot it just for yourself or do you wait and see what the answer is?

RT: Yeah, I mean, I think you do. If you feel that strongly about a story and for whatever reason, you pitch it to somebody and they’re not into it at that time, I think, by all means, go for it. Again, you weigh the cost of it, you weigh a lot of things. But there’s no question about it. 

I think those personal projects are really things that go a long way with editors. I mean, more than just a portfolio or a shot from a live event. I think that when somebody sees you put the time in to execute a story that you’re passionate about, those things go a much longer way with anybody looking at your images from an editor’s perspective than anything else will ever do. So, there’s no downside to doing that.

What method do you find to be the most effective for approaching directors of photography who you want to work with and are interested in building that professional relationship with?

RT: I’ve always liked the method of just seeing people in person, honestly. To me personally, I’ve always been better at trying to get a meeting, even though it’s hard to do now. But write emails and Instagram messages and whatever you can do. And then obviously just a note. If you know an editor worked on a story and did something cool that worked with other photographers, it’s cool to write a note to somebody and say, “Hey, really loved what you did with that.” So, even just a cool handwritten note sometimes is a good way to go.

But we live in a world now, where there are so many different methods. To me, I’ve always liked the personal relationship, but it’s really what you’re comfortable with. Send your work when you can. But I think personal projects are also a good way to go. And I think editors really appreciate seeing that you’re trying to do something as far as that goes.

How well do you know the players when you’re shooting them? Do you know a lot of them at this point?

RT: Yeah, you know them, they know you. I was never really star-struck that much, so it wasn’t a big deal. But yeah, again, over time you get to know people and it does help. I mean honestly, it does help in certain situations where guys will give you more time, more access or ham it up for you a little bit.

But, as far as knowing players, knowing their tendencies… I think as far as that stuff goes, it’s very helpful. So any kind of research you can do beforehand if you’re going to shoot somebody is beneficial.

What are some current trends you see in sports photography and where you see the industry going in the next 10 years?

RT: After all this, I’m not sure anybody knows yet. I think there’s going to be a lot of changes after this, but I’m happy to see that teams and leagues are giving their photographers more access. So I’m really happy about that. And, guys like Billie at the Red Sox – seeing what they do with access, that was something that I remember fighting for that a long time ago, and teams are just so reluctant to do that. 

I’m not sure where everything’s headed. It’s always going to be about finding cool stories, finding good, interesting stories. And they’re always there. I think people are realizing that that’s the stuff that’s never going to get old. Behind the scenes stuff, that’s never going to go away. So, find good stories.

We have a question here asking if you could share a little bit about your food blog.

RT: Oh my God. Really? Yes. In quarantine, me and my wife are videotaping some of our creations and it’s in the works. We are working on that.

When you’re Italian, you have to at least know how to cook a little bit. But yeah, my wife’s a great cook. We are enjoying that and we’re actually building a website and talking about maybe in the future, it’s something that I would like to do more of, honestly. There’s a creativeness to cooking.

What’s in your camera bag? What are your go-tos?

RT: If I had my choice, it would be all prime lenses at this point. I work a lot with Canon and to me I like the 85mm, 1.2’s, the 50mm 1.2’s, and the 24mm and 35mm 1.4. I really love the look of prime lenses and what they deliver. I always think there’s just something about them that have a different look than your normal wide zoom lenses.

But, honestly, everything I shoot is different. I walk into every event or anything I shoot, and it’s always different. I can’t say there’s any one real method that I rely on. It’s really just a matter of waking up in the morning and just going for it. But I really love prime lenses. So I would just stick with that.

Want to get the answers to all of the questions from the Q&A, including a detailed look at tons of photos taken over the course of Rob’s career as a sports photographer? Watch the on-demand webinar.

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